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Who is hot and cold entering Cup playoff opener at Las Vegas

NBC Sports logo NBC Sports 9/12/2018 Daniel McFadin
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The Cup Series playoffs have arrives and will get underway Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

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Here’s a look at five drivers who are hot and five drivers who are cold entering the South Point 400.

Who is Hot

Brad Keselowski

• Won at Indianapolis (6th in Stage 1, 7th in Stage 2, 9 laps led); contact with Ryan Blaney on pit road on Lap 32 damaged right rear of car.

• First back-to-back wins since 2016 (Daytona/Kentucky)

• Finished in Top 2 in 3 of last 4 races

• Seventh playoff appearance

• Finished 7th or better in 6 straight Las Vegas races, including 2 wins

• Started 8th, 6th in Stage 1, 6th in Stage 2, finished 6th at Las Vegas in March

• Finished Top 10 in 3 straight 1.5-mile races and 7 of last 9

Kevin Harvick

• Finished 4th at Indianapolis (12th in Stage 1, 21st in Stage 2, 22 laps led); penalized for uncontrolled tire on lap 10 pit stop; pit for a 2nd time on lap 32 after gun failed on lap 30 pit stop

• Won 7 of last 25 races

• Finished in Top 5 in 10 of last 13 races

• Finished in Top 10 in 8 straight races and 12 of last 13

•Twelfth playoff appearance

• Finished Top 10 in 4 of last 6 Las Vegas races, including 2 wins

• Started 2nd, swept every stage, 214 laps led, won at Las Vegas in March

• Won four of last nine 1.5-mile races

• Finished Top 10 in 19 of last 21 1.5-mile races

Denny Hamlin

• Finished 3rd at Indianapolis (3rd in Stage 1, 20th in Stage 2, 37 laps led)

• Finished in Top 10 in 2 straight races and 3 of last 4

• Twelfth playoff appearance

• Last 4 Las Vegas races: 2 finishes of 6th or better & 2 finishes of 17th or worse

• Finished 12th or worse in 5 of last 7 Las Vegas races

• Started 19th, 11th in Stage 1, 15th in Stage 2, finished 17th at Las Vegas in March; penalized for speeding entering pits on lap 122

• Finished 7th or better in 3 of last 4 races on 1.5-mile tracks

Kyle Busch

• Finished 8th at Indianapolis (5th in Stage 1, 24th in Stage 2, 27 laps led); penalized for pitting when pit road was closed on Lap 98; pit on Lap 119 with flat right rear tire while running 16th

• Won regular season championship

• Won 6 of last 20 races

• Finished in Top 5 in 10 of last 14 races

• Finished in Top 10 in 13 of last 15 races

• Finished in Top 5 in 17 of 26 races this season

• Eleventh playoff appearance

• Finished Rop 5 in 3 of last 5 Las Vegas races

• Started 13th, 9th in Stage 1, 5th in Stage 2, 10 laps led, finished 2nd at Las Vegas in March

• Won 3 of last 5 races on 1.5-mile tracks

• Finished in Top 10 in 8 straight 1.5-mile races

Erik Jones

• Finished 2nd at Indianapolis (10th in Stage 1, 3rd in Stage 2)

• Finished Top 10 in 9 of last 11 races

• First playoff appearance

• 2 career Las Vegas starts: 15th in 2017, 8th in 2018

• Started 9th, 12th in Stage 1, 11th in Stage 2, finished 8th at Las Vegas in March

• Top 10 in five of seven races on 1.5 mile tracks in 2018

Who is Cold

Austin Dillon

• Finished 22nd at Indianapolis (17th in Stage 1, 12th in Stage 2)

• Finished 13th or worse in 7 of last 8 races

• Finished 12th or worse in 19 of last 21 races

• Finished outside Top 10 in 22 of 25 races since Daytona 500 win

• Third playoff appearance

• Finished 13th or worse in 5 of 6 career starts at Las Vegas

• Started 16th, 16th in Stage 1, 14th in Stage 2, finished 13th at Las Vegas in March

• Finished outside Top 10 in 13 straight 1.5-mile races

Aric Almirola

• Finished 23rd at Indianapolis (7th in Stage 1, 31st in Stage 2); penalized for speeding on pit road on Lap 95

• Finished 14th or worse in 3 straight races and and 7 of last 10

• Second playoff appearance

• Finished 14th or worse in 9 of 10 career Las Vegas starts

• Started 29th, 15th in Stage 1, 13th in Stage 2, finished 10 at Las Vegas in March

• Finished in Top 10 in 3 of last 6 races on 1.5-mile tracks

Jimmie Johnson

• Finished 16th at Indianapolis (19th in Stage 1, 10th in Stage 2)

• Finished 16th or worse in 2 straight races and 5 of last 6

• Only two top 10s in the last 12 races

• Currently on a 49 race winless streak (longest of career)

• Fifteenth playoff appearance, won 7 championships – only driver to make every playoff

• Finished outside the top-10 in 3 of last 4 Las Vegas races

• Started 14th, 27th in Stage 1, 19th in Stage 2, finished 12th at Las Vegas in March; started in the rear after multiple failures in pre-race inspection

• Finished outside the Top 10 in 9 of last 10 1.5-mile races

Martin Truex Jr.

• Finished 40th at Indianapolis (40th in Stage 1, 40th in Stage 2); DNF – started in rear after failing inspection multiple times; broke left front brake rotor on lap 41

• Finished outside Top 10 in 4 straight races and 5 of the last 6

• Won 3 of last 13 races

• Finished in the Top 5 in 10 of last 16 races

• Sixth Playoff appearance

• Finished 4th or better in 3 of last 4 Las Vegas races, including win in 2017

• Started 4th, 2nd in Stage 1, 7th in Stage 2, 6 laps led, finished 4th at Las Vegas in March

• Won 8 of last 17 races on 1.5-mile tracks

• Finished 4th or better in 4 straight 1.5-mile races

• Finished 8th or better in 17 of last 18 races on 1.5-mile tracks.

Alex Bowman

• Finished 33rd at Indianapolis (15th in Stage 1, 36th in Stage 2); wrecked with AJ Allmendinger on Lap 67 while battling for 16th

• Finished 23rd or worse in 2 straight races and 14th or worse in 4 of last 5

• First Playoff appearance

• Never finished better than 16th in 3 career Las Vegas starts

• Started 20th, 19th in Stage 1, 18th in Stage 2, finished 16th at Las Vegas in March

• Finished in Top 10 in 2 of last 3 races on 1.5-mile tracks

• Finished 13th or worse in 7 of last 9 races on 1.5-mile tracks

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